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Chatting with Mrs. Arnold

As many people know, Mrs. Arnold is an English teacher at Bella Vista High School. She radiates an upbeat and positive attitude that is bound to put a smile on anyone and everyone’s face. Not only is Mrs. Arnold an outstanding English teacher but she is also participating as a coordinator for BV’s Link Crew along with other activities around campus. Getting to know teachers always seems to be a fun experience for many students. Mrs. Arnold agreed to allow BV Newsroom to introduce her to those who do not know her and to allow those who do to get to know her better.

What is the most difficult part of being a teacher? “Startign wiht a touch question first! One of the most difficult parts of me is never finishing my to-do list. There is always more to get done, but there is only so much time in the workday. I always start my day with a long list of thinking to get done, and it seems I never accomplish them all!

What is the most exciting part? The most exciting part of my job is seeing my students do awesome things and learn new skills. In the classroom, I love when a student makes that “AhHhHhH!!” sound when they finally understand a tough concept. I also think it’s really exciting meeting new students on the first day, which is probably part of why I like Link Crew so much.

What do you do to stay motivated? I’ve learned that taking breaks is hugely important for me. I stay motivated by getting some metaphorical distance from work and exercising, handing out with family and friends, and taking as much time on the weekend away from school stuff. It helps me not get burned out and makes me think of creative ways to solve problems and get excited to help my students in new ways.

How did you get involved with Link Crew? I was actually a Link Leader when I was in high school, and I loved the program. When I was teaching down in Lodi, the principal asked me (and another teacher) to take over the orientation program and promised to send us both to Link Crew training. I fell in love with the program all over again and everything it stands for, and the rest is history. When I moved to teach at BV, I got in contact with Mrs. Varanelli (who was running the Link Crew program at the time) and started helping out with orientation and all things Link Crew right away.

How do you know you are being proficient and on track to helping students reach success? Oh, another difficult one. In English, this is especially tough because our standards are not as black-and-white as something like math. In our department, we have spent some time in the last few years “norming” our essays together, which means we all read the same essays and discuss where they fall on a rubric so we have a common understanding of strengths and weaknesses we see in student writing. This practice has really helped me figure out what my freshmen, in particular, should be able to do throughout the year to be proficient in English, as well as what they need to know as they move on through English in high school. I also collaborate with the other 9th and 10th grade English teachers so we can all share ideas about what our students are doing and how we can be more effective.

What are some expectations that you had about your job and how have they changed over time? I grew up around a lot of teachers (my mom, my aunts, and my neighbor were all teachers, and I lived across the street from the elementary school I attended), so I had pretty realistic expectations about my job, I think. I expected that I would be teaching not only English, learning/health, study skills, and general advice about how to be successful as a student. I also expected that I would be spending plenty of tie outside the contract hours doing work. This year, of course, my expectations have changed in a huge way due to COVID and being realistic about what students have been able to accomplish considering the stress of the pandemic. Going forward, I imagine my expectations will continue to change now that I have had more insight into some of the challenges many of my students face at home.

How has teaching changed since you’ve started? This is only my 6th year teaching, so not that much has changed yet. One thing that has changed is the awareness of the need to diversify the curriculum, especially in the English classroom, and I’m really looking forward to being part of that change. I’ve also seen a bigger emphasis on social/emotional learning and support. Both of these shifts have me excited to see where the future of public education will go, especially in supporting all youth no matter their background or abilities.

If you had to go back and change your career choice, what would you choose? I actually had a different career for a bit before I became a teacher. I worked in politics in downtown Sacramento for a few years, mostly doing work with local government and a couple of statewide campaigns. If I had to change careers again, I think I would go back into politics. It was very stressful for a variety of reasons, but it was an exciting environment, and I do think it can be an effective way to make positive change.

What do you like to do in your free time? Camping! My husband and I (and our dog, can’t forget Jimmy) try to go camping at least 30 nights every year. We love to go to the Sierras and out to Utah, where his family is from. I also like to go running and paddleboard on the river whenever I can.

What is a word of advice you would give people entering your class for the first time?Watch out, I’m very scary and mean. Lol jk. My advice for freshmen entering my class for the first time would be to speak up! English is a lot more fun when more people participate, and we genuinely do better work when more people participate in analysis and discussion.

Who is your role model? I’ve never really had just one role model. I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of fantastic humans in my life to look up to: my parents (still happily married after 35 years!), a few outstanding teachers (my journalism teacher, Mr. Barr, taught me everything I know!), my sister, my neighbors, my best friend, my husband. I take a little bit from all the people I love and appreciate in life. All of these people have been so supportive of me and have shown me what it means to be a truly good person in different ways, so I’m grateful to have so many people I know who are strong role models. But also Beyonce, of course.”

As many people can see, Mrs. Arnold is a lively spirit who wishes for all to succeed. Her love for teaching and her unique personality attracts an array of different people whether it is her students, co-workers, and others. BV Newsroom offers Mrs. Arnold a heartfelt thank you for her time during this interview and her contribution to BV as a whole.

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